Jarl Aanestad, a.k.a. Melantopia, is a Norwegian-born artist working out of L.A., California. He has an impressive track record as a producer - having aided a number of prominent acts and artists such as Karpe Diem and Citizen Four in the preparation and perfection of their own musical creations over the course of his career.
Now, he has set out to voice his own expression with an album inspired by his homeland and heritage. Drenched in dramatic, enticing ambience and slathered in skillfully-administered effects, his first album, "Norwegian Summers," is a truly unique listening experience for techno-lovers of all types to indulge in.
Following are my thoughts on each of the album's tracks:
Cool, warm and mystical; this album is off to a beautiful start with "Midnight Sun".
The sounds feel moist - dripping digital resonance over an impossible landscape.
Immediately, I am cast into a Nordic dream, hounded by fractured memories of a nomadic nation's sacred heritage.
"Deep Dark Fjord"
The fjord's intimidating pitch is discernible, somehow. Its glacial waters long gone, only its depth is visible from the cliff-tops.
Unexpected sounds snatch me from this vision and usher in a sense of urgency towards the end of this otherwise calm auditory experience.
Blessed bliss in a sacred land. Jotunheim's legendary giants can be heard pacing the airwaves in this gorgeous piece. I picture collosal children frolicking beyond the reach of humanity; perhaps, even unaware of their own gigantic size in a world much bigger than themselves.
A sense of youthful joy is quite obviously detectable in this one. Very nice.
"Winter in Telemark"
So soothing it passes by before you realize it, this song is a brilliant expression of snow, wind and peace. A musical rendition of a rumbling whiteout with titillating retro bleeps and bloops previous tracks have had peppered throughout.
"Nordkapp" (North Cape)
This one adopts a recurring groove that elicits visions of waves in motion. More rousing than previous tracks, it is urging me to stand and join the movement.
This is the closest the album has come, so far, to more traditional, 'danceable' techno.
Smooth and seductive, this track is luring me into its hypnotic clutches as would the mythical being it is named after. The beat drives it forward for the entirety of the experience - giving way, finally, to mellow, keyboard-delivered melody in a haze of consciousness.
Certainly as enjoyable as it is fascinating.
I am stalking the ice. I am aimless. In a cloud of sound, the trance-inducing kick keeps me moving.
This track is especially contemplative, delivered like a rush of wind in an empty, white space.
Lost in idyllic nothingness. I am sleepwalking.
This tune is driven by its opening melodic sweepings. A plucked lick heralds the arrival of buzzy bass notes and - something more.
Synth pads cushion the fall as the bass drops off momentarily. Where are we?
We've fallen into the water. Cold, piercing and somniferous, the plucking returns to see us off to another world.
A towering plateau invites us to its edge, to gaze in wonder at the land crawling below. In the distance, the trees listen for this steep rock's hallowed words, and I can only imagine it sounds something like this.
Jovial, awe-inspiring and moving; this song is more direct in its message than most of the others - leaving little ground for assumptions to be made. I sense fond memories at its core.
Bringing us full-circle, to the land governed by the Midnight Sun, this song imposes its willfull self-importance on us listeners in proud fashion.
Tasteful incorporation of vocals invokes an authentic tribal atmosphere that is at once foreign and familiar. We are welcomed into the fray by the open arms of wise village elders.
Cryptic in its delivery, this song is a mystery; impenetrable as a nocturnal blizzard.
Gentle notes on high and a progressing pianistic expression beneath combine as a single musical message for the patient and pensive to contemplate.
A heavy beat solidifies this musical affair - marking the finalization of a masterfully-produced work of art.
Check out this excellent album yourself on Spotify or listen to it on Soundcloud and embark on a journey through the incredible Norwegian musical landscape Melantopia has created.
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